Is Australia’s ABC up for sale?

Members of the Liberal Party holding a vote for privatisation. (Photo: ABC)

Who can speak better for Australia’s commitment to a cleaner and more sustainable future than a reputable public broadcaster? It is no joke when neoliberal politicians have voted to sell it.

Australia’s ruling Liberal Party convened over the weekend and voted to sell the nation’s public broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC).  The ABC has been labelled as “green activist”.

The move was backed by a free-market think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), and has suggested the sale to a media mogul, a mining magnate or simply the “people of Australia who already owns it.”

High-profile delegates who attended the national convention in Sydney included Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Treasurer Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

The motion, supported by a majority of the 110 delegates, calls for the full privatisation of the ABC, except for services into regional areas that are not commercially viable, according to media reports.

Nothing is new. It has been a long-standing plan from the right-wing politicians to privatise ABC. It came to a head in time of the upcoming federal election set for 2019.

Back in 2014, the IPA denounced the ABC as a “green activist” and has accused the broadcaster for its “bias” in reporting on fossil fuels and renewable energy. It has commissioned iSentia to conduct media analysis of ABC’s reporting on Australia’s energy choices.

The iSentia data showed that the ABC treated the renewable energy industry highly favourable, the coal industry unfavourable, and the coal seam gas (CSG) industry highly unfavourable.

See the Green Journal AU’s earlier story here.

(Image: IPA)

Backlash

The result of the vote did not come without a backlash.

The Australian Greens said in a statement the Liberal Party Council has finally opened a can of worms exposing Malcolm Turnbull’s secret plan to sell off the ABC.

Prior to the vote, Greens media spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said Turnbull had a secret deal with Pauline Hanson from the One Nation Party known for its intense dislike to immigrants and refugees. Hanson-Young said Turnbull talked with Hanson to ‘whack off’ money from the ABC’s budget.

The Greens called the sale of ABC electorally toxic and completely out-of-touch with the Australian people.

“If the ABC is privatised, there will be no going back. The media landscape in Australia will be worse off, and The Greens will be fighting this move with the community every step of the way between now and the next election.

The Friends of ABC is set to march in the streets nationwide to stop the impending sale while GetUp! has re-commence a campaign to thwart any privatisation plan and it is mobilising a plan to fight back.

The Friends of the ABC are holding rallies all round Australia next month to protest the continual cutting of ABC funding, the harassment of a publicly trusted institution (which is by statute politically independent) AND this latest Liberal Party move to promote the selling off of the ABC”

ABC Friends National is calling for all Liberal Party voters to reject any sell-off of the ABC as being  both anti Australian and anti democratic.

“Australian Public broadcasting has an eighty-year history, and is supported by more than 80% of the community,” said ABC Friends National President, Margaret Reynolds adding, “It is not a plaything of the extremists who have dismissed public opinion in pursuit of their preoccupation with private profits.”

Playing Defensive

Following the vote, the Turnbull Government was scrambling to rule out privatisation of ABC. Some members distanced themselves from the vote, while Turnbull himself denied any plan to sell the public broadcaster.

“The ABC will always be in public hands. It will never be sold. That is my commitment. It is a public broadcaster. It always has been and it always will be,” Mr Turnbull told the media on Monday.

Government frontbencher Josh Frydenberg backed Saturday’s assurance from Treasurer Scott Morrison that the government had no plans for privatisation. Finance minister Mathias Cormann went further, saying the coalition will not be privatising the ABC

Nationals Leader and Deputy PM Michael McCormack has also distanced his party from the Liberal Party peak council, which voted to the privatisation.

“The Nationals does not, and has no intention of ever supporting the privatisation of the ABC,” Mr McCormack said in a statement.

IPA research fellow Chris Berg suggests options such as selling it to the stock market, media mogul, ABC staff or Australian taxpayers..Berg has co-authored a book with Sinclair Davidson why ABC has to be sold.

Early in May, IPA launched the book, Against Public Broadcasting, at the largest free market, pro-liberty conference in Asia Pacific.

Communication Minister Fifield, an IPA member quickly distanced himself from the book and tried to convince the public ABC would remain in public hands.

Promises Fulfilled

Back in 2014, it was a landmark victory for then Prime Minister Tony Abbott to abolish the carbon tax put in place by his predecessor, Julia Gillard, to tax polluters. It was his election promise. He was swift to fulfill his other promises — to abolish the climate change authority and disband the Clean Energy Fund.

The IPA claims itself as the world’s oldest right wing think tank representing big businesses with close links to the Business Council of Australia. It advocates free market economics, privatisation, deregulation, limited government, and a free market approach to environmental problems.

IPA is accused of being an instrument in forming the Liberal Party and is also a fund raiser for the party with major donors from the resource industry such as ExxonMobil, Telstra, WMC Resources, BHP Billiton, Phillip Morris, Murray Irrigation Ltd., Clough Engineering, Caltex, Shell, Esso, Electricity and Mining companies, and British American Tobacco among others.

See the Green Journal AU’s earlier story here.

Link to Asian Correspondent

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Free market think tank urges privatisation of ABC

The proposed privatisation of  the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) could be an ultimate blow to Australia’s clean energy policies if it pushes through. The county’s fossil fuels think tank highly recommends the public broadcaster to be silenced by transferring its management to the private sector.

The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA)  released a report this week saying that the ABC is bias against the fossil fuels industry and  is leaning towards the left with favourable reporting on  renewable energy. IPA commissioned iSentia in March to do an analysis based on ABC’s coverage of energy policy issues, including the coal-mining, coal-seam gas, and the renewable energy industries.

Privileged occasions where Abbott-Murdoch-Rinehart get together. Top photo shows Gina Rinehart whispers to PM Tony Abbott while below, Murdoch is with the mining goddess.

“If bias at the ABC is systemic, only structural reform will solve it. A new board or management won’t change the culture. Privatising the ABC is the only way to ensure taxpayers’ money is not used to fund biased coverage,” IPA said in its website.

But oppositions to the fossil fuels industry are saying the contrary. Privatising the ABC would limit reporting on renewable energy policies, giving way to big-scale investments on fossil fuels. GetUp! said privatising the ABC will thwart Australia’s burgeoning renewable energy industry in favour of fossil fuels.

A speech delivered by Len Cooper, secretary of Communications Workers Union, in Wodonga on 16 June 2014 also said Prime Minister Tony Abbott made a  pre-election pledge. He promised his party, industry think tanks, and supporters to dismantle policies that are not favourable to encourage investments. Cooper added, “the IPA has over 100 policy demands it has wanted and wants the Abbott Government to implement.”

Copper revealed the guests who attended the 70th Anniversary IPA dinner in April 2013 before the federal election. She said high profile guests included mining queen, Gina Rinehart and media mogul, Rupert Murdoch who was one of the keynote speakers. Early on, Abbott assured his guests his government will repeal the carbon tax, abolish the climate change authority, and disband the Clean Energy Fund.

The IPA claims itself as the world’s oldest right wing think tank representing big businesses with close links to the Business Council of Australia. It advocates free market economics, privatisation, deregulation, limited government, and a free market approach to environmental problems.

Cooper accused the IPA of being an instrument in forming the Liberal Party and is also a fund raiser for the party with major donors from the resource industry such as ExxonMobil, Telstra, WMC Resources, BHP Billiton, Phillip Morris, Murray Irrigation Ltd., Clough Engineering, Caltex, Shell, Esso, Electricity and Mining companies, and British American Tobacco among others.

ABC Friends also noted how Abbott praised his fellow keynote speakers, especially Murdoch.

Without specifying what items on the IPA’s list to radically transform Australia he would not implement, Abbott’s broad response was: “a big ‘yes’ to many of the 75 specific policies you urged upon me”. So what would be the result if the IPA’s policy for the ABC was implemented? Public broadcasting – gone. The ABC to be broken up and sold off, and SBS to be fully privatised.

Large-scale protests are already brewing to lambast Abbott’s leadership policies..GetUp! said “we actually had a good laugh, until we realised – this is no joke. “

GetUp! said the IPA’s report purports to have  uncovered “media bias” but the fact remains that “As we all know by now, the right-wing think tank just happens to be supported by the likes of Murdoch and Rinehart.”

Dark, thick smoke from coal-fired power plants is belched into the atmosphere. (Photo: ABC)

The scary truth is right now we are watching the IPA’s radical conservative agenda become a reality before our eyes – from the dismantling of the carbon price to a budget that elevates big business over everyday Australians. Its seemingly impossible wish list of 75 conservative items has been rapidly ticked off as our Prime Minister adopts them with abandon.

Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne described the Coalition as an ‘Abbott-Murdoch-Rinehart collaboration directed and promoted by the IPA.’

Meanwhile, the Guardian said there are many indicators how to determine whether news reporting is objective or biased. But whether ABC is bias or not, “A KPMG report leaked in 2006 considered the ABC to be highly efficient and underfunded.”

A positive mention of Crikey: “The ABC provides a high volume of outputs and quality relative to the level of funding it receives … the ABC appears to be a broadly efficient organisation.”

Link: The Green Journal at Asian Correspondent

Abbott’s budget cuts hit the nation

Whatz-a-buzz this week?

abc

The environment is not only under attack from the Tony Abbott Government. The Federal Government also released the commission’s report, outlining 86 recommendations aimed at saving the budget tens of billions of dollars a year and achieving a surplus of 1 per cent by 2023-24.

Areas in the firing line include family payments, child care, health care, education, unemployment and pension payments, aged care and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Life is getting tougher for the most disadvantaged, the ABC reported

The attack on public broadcaster – the ABC itself – is also on the spotlight. So there you go, a threat to liberty on free speech, balanced reporting, and fearless views. Without ABC, most Australian news would only come from the profit-oriented Murdoch and Fairfax media.  So, here’s from GetUp! delivered to my mailbox:

Dear Rowena,

This budget, ABC funding is under attack. But we can be there to protect it.

On 7 May – in the critical week before Budget – GetUp members like Donald will be ramping up the campaign to protect our ABC by taking the fight straight to their Federal representatives. In more than sixty electorates, GetUp members have stepped up to organise exciting events to deliver the 240,000 person strong petition to Protect our ABC.

But to make these petition deliveries real show-stoppers, these GetUp members are counting on you to join them.

Can you join a team of local GetUp members and deliver the ABC petition to your MP?

What: Join local GetUp members to deliver the 240,000 signature strong ABC petition to your MP’s office
Date: Wednesday 7 May
Time: 9:00-9:30am
Location: Your local MP’s office (details provided on the RSVP page)
RSVP: Click here to join a team

Already, 240,000 passionate GetUp members have signed the online petition to Protect our ABC – and it’s shaping up to be the biggest and fastest growing petition in our movement’s history! That’s why, just a week out from budget, we need to take our campaign to the doorsteps of our decision makers and into the hands of Federal MPs – in cities and regional towns across Australia.

By presenting our petition on the same day, at the same time, right across Australia, we’ll create a media frenzy and prove, once and for all, that protecting the ABC is supported Australia-wide. These petition deliveries will send MPs across the political spectrum a message they can’t ignore and a mandate to defend our national treasure.

Attending your local ABC petition delivery is as easy as 1, 2, 3! All you have to do is sign up to your electorate’s delivery, note the address of your MP’s office, and be there bright and early to meet your fellow GetUp members on Wednesday 7 May.

RSVP to attend your local petition delivery team on 7 May.

With the future of our ABC at stake, it’s time to prove Australians are ready to fight for it.

See you there,
Jess, Sophie, Emma and Michael for the GetUp team

PS – Can’t make it next Wednesday 7 May but still want to get involved in the campaign? Tell us why you want to Protect our ABC by submitting a photo or message here: www.getup.org.au/abc-submit

Egyptian live cattle cruelty enrages Australia

Animal Australia is distressed to see another footage of Australian cattle being slaughtered in Egyptian abattoirs.

Poster on live export over and over (Photo: ABC)

The “voice of animals” from Downunder reiterates its opposition to live exports, a major industry that generates millions of dollars in earning and employs more than 10,000 people in rural and regional Australia.

Head campaigner Lyn White said a “brave Egyptian veterinarian” has contacted her to seek the group’s help to rescue the victims of abbatoir violence in Egypt. The veterinarian is said to have witnessed horrendous abuses of Australian cattle in the country.

White said the animals are terrified “having their eyes stabbed, tendons slashed, throats brutally cut open and being butchered alive. “  The  brutality was aired on a nationwide ABC’s 7.30 program.

To the carnivores, the history of animal slaughter dates back to ancient times. It has become part of culture in many ancient civilizations. It is done as a ritual to appease the gods or simply for human consumption.

Here’s an excerpt, for example, from the Offerings of Ramses III to Amen at Medinet Habu,  Papyrus Harris, J.H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt; Part Four:

The animal was led by a rope in lieu of a nose ring, often the noose was fastened to the lower lip as well. The butchers tied a rope to one of its legs, passed it over the animal’s back and pulled it up. Then the cow was wrestled to the ground, its legs bound together, its head pulled back, and with a hand-long knife [1] its throat was cut. The blood was collected in shallow vessels…..

Much of the slaughtering went on in temple slaughter yards, where the animals offered by the rich were killed…

I multiplied the divine offerings presented before thee, of bread, wine, beer, and fat geese; numerous oxen bullocks, calves, cows, white oryxes, and gazelles offered in his slaughter yard.

Regardless of the purpose, animal advocates are appalled with the graphic images of animals being slaughtered.

White said the latest cruelty is systemic and Australia’s live export industry had purpose-built two supposed ‘state of the art’ abattoirs that were being used to abuse and brutally slaughter Australian animals.  She said the live export trade has been exposed for knowingly supplying animals to extreme cruelty.

The advocacy group is also pushing to stop factory farming, animal testing, and all sorts of animal “injustices”.

Can there be a solution to stop animal slaughter? While the Federal Government is working out for a solution, the group has an answer: vegetarianism– which is also one of its advocacy agenda.

Great examples of vegetarians circulating on Facebook

In a separate website, Animal Australia is in agreement to top scientists such as Albert Einstein who was quoted as saying, ” Nothing will benefit human heart and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”

Of course, the livestock industry will not agree.

Blog Link: Asian Correspondent